They note that I discussed von Brunn's attack in a CNN commentary piece and was quoted in an earlier article about another apparent hate crime homicide out of Oakland where a reprehensible violent African-American bigot killed three people, one of whom was white. In explaining why the prosecutor probably declined to invoke race as an aggravating factor in the killing of the white victim, I explained to the reporter that because of the other murders the prosecutor had already established a requisite aggravating factor to invoke the death penalty. By the same token the initial charges against von Brunn, similarly did not include a hate crime charge. The bottom line is that both murders appear to be hate crimes, and should be counted as such for data purposes and community condemnation. However, as I often note, homicide cases, in particular are very complex and we must extend latitude to a prosecutor's discretion as to how to get the maximum penalty possible in the most efficient and effective way.
Many hate crime murders are simply not charged as hate crimes. The Oakland murder, like the James Byrd killing were not prosecuted as hate crimes at the death penalty stage. How von Brunn is ultimately charged, is a tactical decision that should not stand in the way of us condemning his bigotry, just as we should in the Oakland case. As any lawyer worth his salt knows, but not the article's author, it is not statutes alone that win cases. We should have hate crime laws on the books and use them when we can, but lawyers make tactical decisions all the time as to how to present murder cases, where the maximum penalty is often not impacted by the charging of anything else. It just makes sense in certain instances to refrain from charging ANY other offense when there is a cut and dry death penalty case presented. That is why if the author bothered he would have seen my other quote out of FNC where I stated my consistent position regarding hate crime homicides, "Murder is not the hill to plant the flag on because homicide is already the most vigorously punished crime on the books," he said, noting that offenses that are bias-motivated are sometimes difficult to prosecute."